How To Carry a Heavy Backpack – Save Yourself a Trip To The Doctor

Published by Manuel on

With our daily activities requiring us to put a lot of items into our backpacks which in turn makes our packs become heavier, we need to learn some ways on how to carry a heavy backpack. You can consider this post a part two on the proper way to wear a backpack but this post would duel on heavy backpacks and how to carry them.

We are no longer ignorant of the effects carrying a heavy backpack can have on our health. A heavy pack should be avoided at all cost and if possible after you finish packing your bag and it is heavy you should offload it and force yourself to reduce the load in the pack by at least 30%.

Prevention is always better than cure and although the tips that would be provided in this post can help you know how to carry a heavy backpack, it is imperative that you always try to reduce the load you carry on your back.

There are a lot of young people and even some adults with the straps of their backpacks so loose that it ends up hanging way below their waist. Now for whatever reason this is done I do not know because I won’t even consider that fashion.Three girls wearing a backpack

If you have ever carried a light pack and a heavy pack then I am pretty sure you know how different they both feel. To make your bag sit more than an inch below your waist defeats the purpose of a backpack.

Why Avoid Carrying a Heavy Backpack

Apart from the obvious reason of a heavy pack been dangerous to your health, I would give some reasons that are not as obvious but are just as important.

Limits your movement

Ever gone hiking with a really heavy backpack and you were let’s say probably about to make a jump? I am pretty sure you noticed how difficult that jump was and that’s if you were even able to make the jump. Well, guess what, I am pretty sure that one of the reasons you were not able to make that jump was because of your heavy backpack.

Maybe you should do a test run and try putting the pack down to see if you would feel more confident that you would be able to make that jump. I am pretty sure you would feel more confident than when you had the heavy backpack on.A guy jumping from one rock to another

This is just a typical example for those that hike and I am pretty sure that there are more experiences we go through on our day to day activities in which our movements are limited because of our heavy packs.

Been Mobile and Nimble

For those of us that are always on the go with a backpack, we would appreciate how it feels making use of a lighter pack than we do a backpack that is heavy. Even for those of us in school, the joy of not making use of a heavy backpack cannot be overstated. You literally get to take some loads off your shoulders by making use of a backpack that is not loaded to the top with books.

Can Make Your Day Miserable

Let’s not forget about been miserable because of a heavy backpack. That heavy backpack you haul around town might just be making you feel miserable which might just be making you have a crappy day.

Some of these can be avoided or at the very least reduced if you just make your pack lighter.

How To Carry a Heavy Backpack

Are all the items in your bag considered a necessity? Then you need to be enlightened on how you can carry that heavy backpack.

The golden rule

The golden rule for body weight is to carry at most 15percent of your body weight. Whether you are a kid or an adult this rule should apply to you. You can pretty much do the maths to know how much weight you should carry. Let’s say you weigh about 120 pounds. To know the amount of weight you should carry you take 15percent of 120 pounds which is 30 pounds. Its pretty straightforward and anybody can do this.

Make sure heavier items are placed at the bottom

Whatever you are carrying that involves anything that is heavy you should make sure that you put those that are heavy at the bottom of the pack. If you are to place heavier items at the bottom of your backpack the weight would shift to your back instead of your shoulders and neck. This can result in a much lower change in posture than otherwise.

Take short breaks

This is very important and can make you less stressed when you carry a heavy pack. You should take breaks that can help you regain some of your energy to be able to properly carry your heavy pack and also to catch some breadth.A guy taking a short break after walking a long distance with his backpack Your pack doesn’t need to be on your back 24/7. If you can, you can always hold it for some few minutes to help reduce the time it spends on your back.

Use both straps

In the proper way to wear a backpack, the importance of wearing both straps of a backpack was stated. This can help distribute the weight of your heavy backpack evenly across both of your shoulders. This, in turn, can make your pack easier and more comfortable to carry.

If your pack is made up of only one strap, you should make sure you periodically swap sides in order to avoid putting all the burden on just one side of your shoulders.

Keep your pack close to your body

If your backpack is not always close to your body it can put a strain on the muscles of your back. Always make sure the straps of your pack is not loose as this can make your bag swing while you walk causing more strain on the muscles of your back.

Properly arrange your items

By arranging your items the right way you can even out the load you carry and this can help to distribute the weight evenly which can help reduce the effect of carrying the heavy pack.

Make use of load lifters

Some backpacks make use of load adjustment lifters. This can be used to bring the upper part of the backpack closer to your back which can help your pack from flopping around on your back and also helps to make the load balanced which in turn lifts the bag off your shoulders better securing it to your back.

Make sure it forms an angle approximately 45 degrees with the back panel of the backpack and also with the horizontal plane that is tangent to the top of your shoulders. Make sure they are not over tightened as that can make you feel uncomfortable.

Pack less

Trust me when I tell you that you don’t really need as much as you think you do. You should try to force yourself to make sure you pack less. Whenever you pack and you feel it is too heavy, you should empty the bag and reduce your items making sure items that would not be useful are removed not forgetting that some items can serve multiple purposes.

You really don’t have to turn your backpack into a bottomless pit. Remember Mary Poppins and her magic carpet bag that contained almost everything. I don’t think your backpack should be that way because trust me when I tell you that Mary Poppins had it easy because it was a magic bag.

The movie mary poppins showing mary poppins and two kids

This scene is from the movie mary poppins showing mary poppins putting items into a bag and also collecting items from the same bag and two kids with her are wondering where all the items she takes from the bag are coming from

The bags we own are not magic bags and putting lots of items into it can make the bag become heavy real fast.

Go for the alternative

It is not a rule that when you are carrying a lot of items to always make use of a backpack. You can always go the other way by making use of a rolling bag. If you live in areas that a rolling bag can be easily used, you should not hesitate and should make use of rolling backs. It might look old school but it is saving you from putting a lot of burden on your back.

The best way to carry your backpack is to make it light but if you should carry a heavy backpack it should not be done on a regular basis. The tips provided above would help you to be able to carry your heavy backpack so you would not need a trip to the chiropractic doctor.

If you know you cannot avoid carrying heavy loads, you should try to strengthen your core and your back muscles in order to be able to carry that load. No age group is spared from the dangers of carrying a heavy backpack which is why we all have to learn how to carry a heavy backpack.

I hope you learned something from this post that you can make use of and if you have any questions relating to how to carry a heavy backpack or you have your own personal experience(s), please live a comment below.


Chrissie Spurgeon · November 28, 2018 at 12:29 am

Hi Manuel

This is really important and valuable information for everyone, whether they are hiking or carrying a backpack around going to and from worker school.

I would think that every parent would want to pass this information on to their children, and make sure that they understand how to pack the backpack correctly, and how to wear it properly, and to also understand the dangers to their health of not doing that. This is particularly important as many children have to carry a selection of heavy books around as they go from class to class all day at school, and they need to understand the dangers. I would also think that a properly packed backpack is vital for anyone who wears one whilst riding a bike, would you agree?

Many thanks for your really helpful post.

Chrissie 🙂

    Manuel · November 28, 2018 at 6:46 am

    Yes Chrissie, it’s important to properly pack a backpack even for those riding a bike so the pack can be balanced and the weight of the backpack would be properly distributed.

Stefan · November 28, 2018 at 12:30 am

I’m glad to have found this article. I have to use a backpack every day and often I have a miserable day when I go and come back from work.

I often forget to take unnecessary things out of my backpack, I know, it takes only some seconds to do that but in the morning I’m too much in a hurry and evenings I want to relax and don’t think about it.

I didn’t know the rule of 15% of body weight, I’ll have to check that.

That it is more comfortable to walk when the backpack is as close to the body as possible I have already found out 🙂

    Manuel · November 28, 2018 at 6:43 am

    Thanks for your comment Stefan

Sujandar Mahesan · November 28, 2018 at 12:30 am

This is actually a very interesting topic that I haven’t heard before and also it’s just not only interesting but also very useful for anyone who carries lot of stuff with them. It can be really frustrating for someone Carey a heavy weight bag but this article can be the key for it. 

Thank you for writing this useful article and Sharing it with us.

    Manuel · November 28, 2018 at 6:41 am

    Thanks for stopping by Mahesan

Matt's Mom · November 28, 2018 at 12:30 am

These are great tips on how to properly carry a heavy backpack.  I do use most of those tips now, other then I know I have a lot more weight in my pack than I should.  This is probably a silly question, but what is a rolling backpack?  I have hiked and back packed my whole life, pretty much using the same gear.  Maybe it is time to look into some new stuff!

    Manuel · November 28, 2018 at 6:39 am

    No question here can be a silly question. You can consider a rolling backpack as a backpack that has rollers which can be rolled on the ground instead of wearing the pack on your back. You also have the option of wearing it on your back if you decide to.

Kenny Tang · November 28, 2018 at 1:11 am

Hello Manuel,

Thank you for sharing this interesting and very informative post. You make a lot of very good points and I agree carrying a heavy backpack over a period of time can cause a number of problems. Your rule about carrying 15 percent of your bodyweight is good because for the majority of people that is a reasonable amount of weight to carry around. I also like your rule about keeping your pack close to your body. During a long trip, I had the straps on my backpack hang too low and it was causing unnecessary strain on my shoulders. Since that day, I have made it a habit to tighten the straps properly every time and that action has made a noticeable difference. 

    Manuel · November 28, 2018 at 6:33 am

    It is best that if for any reason we decide to carry a heavy pack that we learn to carry it right.

Rutz · February 11, 2019 at 6:40 pm

Thanks for your recommendations for carrying a heavy backpack.  I am a victim of carrying a heavy one with one stride and sometimes it leads to my back aching a lot. The choice of going for an alternative is a great one.  Do you have any recommendations where one can buy the rolling bags?

    Manuel · February 12, 2019 at 3:42 am

    You can always check on Amazon. They have several options that should suit your taste. Also if you would like to know other places that you can get rolling bags to buy online you can check out this post how to buy a backpack online.

Jenny · February 11, 2019 at 6:41 pm

Huh… just the title made me straighten my back. 

Probably, it won’t last for long, though. I’m used to working a lot of hours in front of a computer sitting on a chair and I don’t take care of my spine as often as I should.

I carry a lot of things in my backpack – a habit from my days as a student. I usually just put them as fast as I can and never notice how I order them. I guess I should change that. 😛 

Thank you so much for your tips on how to do that! 

P.S.: Occasionally, I have the backpack on the front with the straps on the back. I’ve read somewhere that this is a good way to reverse some of the damage. What’s your opinion on this? Thanks in advance!

    Manuel · February 12, 2019 at 3:48 am

    Hello Jenny, I am not absolutely sure about that. If you feel pains at the back I think the best thing you should do is to see a chiropractic doctor as they can help you in relieving the pain you feel and give you directions on how to prevent the pain from occurring and if it can be reversed you would also be given instructions.

      Jenny · February 12, 2019 at 5:12 am

      Thank you. I’ll do that! 🙂

Deraj · February 11, 2019 at 6:42 pm

Thanks a lot for this backpack tips. I didn’t know before that we should keep our pack close to our body, otherwise, it can put a strain on our back muscles. From now I will always keep it in mind while carrying a backpack. Thank you very much for this wonderful tip as well as other tips.

Louis · February 11, 2019 at 6:42 pm

I like to carry my backpack with one hand cos I think this is cool but lately, I’ve begun to notice my back is getting damaged from resting all the weight on one hand. So I think it’s really true when you say bags should be carried on both hands. By the way, I really have never been a fan of sagging bags, I think it’s just absolutely lazy. Thanks for writing, always enjoy your blog

    Manuel · February 12, 2019 at 3:51 am

    A lot of people do like to carry their backpacks on just one side of their shoulders. If you prefer this method you can always alternate the shoulders so you limit the weight been exerted on only one of your shoulders.

Evie · February 11, 2019 at 6:43 pm

I couldn’t agree with you more. I used to carry more than I needed in my backpack not realizing that it could really mess with my mood. When I decided to unload stuffs that I didn’t really need it does make a difference. Not just with my mood but also the mobility I get. Thanks for sharing all your tips, it is very useful.

    Manuel · February 12, 2019 at 6:15 pm

    People hardly realize this but something as simple as a heavy backpack can make us be more stressed which can really affect our mood which can make us have a crappy day. 

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